Battle ropes have become a mainstay in fitness facilities in recent years, largely because they are versatile and can be used for cardiorespiratory or muscle-strengthening exercise, typically in a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) format. They’re also a lot of fun to use. This article looks at what the research says about the effectiveness of heavy rope training and features a workout with the innovative Hyper Rope from Hyperwear using the ACE Integrated Fitness Training (ACE IFT®) Model as a guide. 

Research Says…

A recent ACE-sponsored study conducted by a research team in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse compared the electromyographic (EMG) response in various muscles during five different battle rope exercises to determine which exercises produced the greatest muscle activation. The researchers also determined if the muscles tested were activated to a sufficient degree to increase muscular strength.

The study included 12 apparently healthy volunteers between the ages of 20 and 24 years old, all of whom had previous experience with resistance training, preferably battle rope training. Participants initially performed a maximal voluntary isometric contraction of eight different muscles to provide baseline EMG values to compare against muscle activation during five different heavy ropes exercises. Here were some key takeaways from this research:

  • Common rope exercises effectively activate the upper trapezius, anterior deltoid and the palmaris longus.
  • Asymmetrical exercises effectively activate the external obliques and erector spinae.
  • Symmetrical exercises effectively activate the vastus medialis and gluteus maximus.

In other words, as lead research Dr. John Porcari says, “Battle ropes provide a tremendous total-body workout, but variety of movement is key.” 

The Equipment: Hyperwear Hyper Rope

The Hyper Rope by Hyperwear weighs 15 pounds and is 20 feet long, yet uses approximately 6 feet of space, which is significantly less than the space required to use traditional ropes (Figure 1). The Hyper Rope allows you to perform high-intensity heavy-rope exercises, but in less space and without the need for an anchor point. It’s also possible to perform a few unique exercises that are impossible to do with traditional anchored ropes. 


pastedGraphic.pngFigure 1

Bring the ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model to Life

The ACE IFT Model provides a framework for movement-based training where we develop stability and mobility as appropriate in a specific area of the body, then integrate it into a full-body movement and add external load, creating a stimulus for strength gains, and increasing movement speed to develop bodily control (final phase). 

The following workout includes exercises that involve the five primary movement patterns featured in the ACE IFT Model:

  1. Bend-and-lift: A bilateral hip- or glute-dominant movement (e.g., squat or deadlift)
  2. Single-leg: A unilateral or asymmetrical lower-body movement (e.g., single-leg squat or lunge)
  3. Push: A vertical or horizontal pushing movement, either bilateral or unilateral
  4. Pull: A vertical or horizontal pulling movement, either bilateral or unilateral
  5. Rotation: A limb, torso or whole-body axial rotation

This workout features exercises that don’t require the rope to be anchored, which is a unique feature of the Hyper Rope. If you need to stabilize the middle of the rope for any exercise, Hyperwear recommends using a 20-pound or heavier SandBell. This rope should not be anchored using traditional anchoring strategies.

The workout is organized into supersets, with 30 seconds of work followed by 15 seconds of rest. Have clients perform three sets of each superset (unless otherwise noted below), resting for one minute before transitioning to the next superset. The total time for the workout is approximately 25 minutes, not including a proper warm-up and cool-down. Except where noted, use a “handshake” grip to hold the rope.

Here are a few terms you’ll need to know for this workout. Waves are small amplitude oscillations of the rope, which can feature either symmetrical or asymmetrical arm movements. Whips (commonly referred to as “power slams” in heavy rope research, and just “slams” in many workouts) are large amplitude, high-force oscillations of the rope. Whips are generally symmetrical arm motions using both ends of the rope but can also be unilateral if using only one end of the rope.


Movement 1

Movement 2



Stationary Long Jump Whip

Infinity Whip (microphone or handshake grip)

Complete 4 sets; change directions on the Infinity Whip movement with each set (and note which direction feels more natural). 


Kneeling Rotational Whip

Skater Lunge With Side Impulse Wave (microphone grip)

Perform one set of the Skater Lunge with each leg before returning to the Kneeling Rotational Whip.


Wide/Narrow Squat Whip

Walking Wave

Manipulate the intensity of these exercises by varing the depth of the squat or crouch.


Circular Shuffle Alternating Wave

Rear Shoulder Fly

Grip the handles to create internal anti-rotation at the shoulders (i.e., isometric external rotation).


This workout uses a 30-second work:15-second rest interval, which makes it possible to achieve intensities at and above the second ventilatory threshold (VT2) and features more sets than are used in the study described earlier.”  This provides a total work time of 14.5 minutes, which is considerably longer than the 3−4 minutes of work time featured in many studies. 

With the exception of the rear shoulder fly exercise, this workout may be classified as training time in zone 3 of the three-zone intensity model, given the speed of the movements (Table 1). Here are some additional notes on several of the exercises:

  • Kneeling Rotational Whip: Intentionally use and allow lateral flexion with torso rotation.  This idea of “coiling” the core is in contrast to the anti-rotation strategies common to many core exercises.
  • Skater Lunge With Side Impulse Wave: This exercise is designed to be a single powerful concentric effort of the push-off leg and contralateral arm during each repetition; use small shuffle steps to return to the starting position. 
  • Rear Shoulder Fly: The length of rope running away from the handle should be coming out of the thumb side of your hand. This creates a need for the external shoulder rotators to resist the internal rotation from the weight of the rope thus additional shoulder and posture benefit due to the near universal need for more external rotation ability in the shoulder.

Table 1. Exercise Integrated Fitness Training Model Movements and Symmetry Classification


ACE IFT Model Movements


Stationary Long Jump Whip



Infinity Whip

Rotate, push, pull


Kneeling Rotational Whip



Skater Lunge With Side Impulse Wave

Single-leg, push


Wide/Narrow Squat Whip

Bend-and-lift, push


Walking Wave

Push, rotate


Circular Shuffle Alternating Wave

Single-leg, rotate, push


Rear Shoulder Fly